The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the Shadows They Cast

« This working paper explores the consequences for historians’ research practice of the twinned transnational and digital turns. The accelerating digitization of historians’ sources (scholarly, periodical, and archival) and the radical shift in the granularity of access to information within them has radically changes historians’ research practice. Yet this has incited remarkably little reflection regarding the consequences for individual projects or collective knowledge generation. What are the implications for international research in particular? This essay heralds the new kinds of historical knowledge-generation made possible by web access to digitized, text-searchable sources. It also attempts an accounting of all that we formerly, unwittingly, gained from the frictions inherent to international research in an analog world. What are the intellectual and political consequences of that which has been lost? »


Main basse sur la science publique Le «coût…

Main basse sur la science publique : Le «coût de génie» de l’édition scientifique privée :

« Imaginez un monde où les chercheurs des établissements publics de recherche et des universités seraient rétribués individuellement en fonction de leur contribution au chiffre d’affaire d’un oligopole de grands groupes privés, et où les moyens humains et financiers affectés à leurs recherches en dépendraient. Projet d’un think-tank ultra-libéral, voire science-fiction pensez-vous ?… ou alors cas particulier de quelques fraudes liées à l’industrie du médicament ? Non, non, regardez bien autour de vous, c’est déjà le cas, dans l’ensemble du monde scientifique (sciences de la nature, médicales, agronomiques…), et ce à l’insu de la grande majorité des gens, et de trop de chercheurs ! Mais une prise de conscience est en train de s’opérer et une bataille s’engage sur tous les continents. »


When Copyright Law and Science Collide: Empowering Digitally Integrated Research Methods on a Global Scale

Automated knowledge discovery tools have become central to the scientific enterprise in a growing number of fields and are widely employed in the humanities as well. New scientific methods, and the evolution of entirely new fields of scientific inquiry, have emerged from the integration of digital technologies into scientific research processes that ingest vast amounts of published data and literature. The Article demonstrates that intellectual property laws have not kept pace with these phenomena.

Copyright law and science co-existed for much of their respective histories, with a benign tradition of the former giving way to the needs of the latter. Today, however, the formidable array of legislative maneuvers to tighten the grip of copyright laws in defense of cultural industries whose business models were upended in the online environment have, deliberately or not, undermined the ability of the scientific community to access, use, and reuse vast amounts of basic knowledge inputs. Database protection laws, reinforced by electronic fences and contracts of adhesion, further subject copy-reliant technologies to the whims of publishers and hinder the pooling of publicly funded resources that empower collaborative research networks and the formation of science commons in general.

The authors analyze the different components of a complicated transnational legislative fabric that have changed world copyright law into a science-hostile environment. Given the global nature of digital scientific research, they focus attention on comparative laws that fragment research inputs into diversely accessible territorial compartments. This analysis shows that users of automated knowledge discovery tools will likely become collective infringers of both domestic and international property laws.

In response to this challenge, the authors discuss possible solutions to the problems that intellectual property laws have created for digitally integrated scientific research from two very different angles. First, the authors skeptically consider the kinds of legal reforms that would be needed if commercial publishers continued to act as intermediaries between producers and users of scientific information and data, as they do today, without regard to the likelihood that such reforms would ever be enacted.

The authors then reconsider the role of publishers and ask whether, from a cost-benefit perspective, it should be significantly modified or abandoned altogether. Finally, the authors examine alternative strategies that the scientific community itself could embrace in a concerted effort to manage its own upstream knowledge assets in ways that might avoid, or at least attenuate, the obstacles to digitally empowered scientific research currently flowing from a flawed intellectual property regime.

The Article concludes by stressing the need to bridge the current disconnect between private rights and public science, in the overall interest of both innovation and the advancement of knowledge.


The internet and science communication blurring the boundaries…

The internet and science communication: blurring the boundaries :

« Scientific research is heavily dependent on communication and collaboration. Research does not exist in a bubble; scientific work must be communicated in order to add it to the body of knowledge within a scientific community, so that its members may ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and benefit from all that has come before. The effectiveness of scientific communication is crucial to the pace of scientific progress: in all its forms it enables ideas to be formulated, results to be compared, and replications and improvements to be made. The sharing of science is a foundational aspect of the scientific method. This paper, part of the policy research within the FP7 EUROCANCERCOMS project, discusses how the Internet has changed communication by cancer researchers and how it has the potential to change it still more in the future. It will detail two broad types of communication: formal and informal, and how these are changing with the use of new web tools and technologies. »


Working Together to Reduce Plagiarism an…

Working Together to Reduce Plagiarism and Promote Academic Integrity: A Collaborative Initiative at Leicester :

« This staff student collaboration arose from a staff-led research project that examined the potential for an American-style honor code system to reduce plagiarism in higher education. This system promotes the positive benefits of good scholarship, encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning and is based on a community of trust between staff and students. Students’ Union Education Officers, student course representatives and academic staff worked together to re-frame advice given to students on plagiarism in a more positive light. This ongoing collaboration has resulted in joint recommendations from staff and students to the institution on how to reduce plagiarism and promote a culture of academic integrity. »


Research support services: What services…

Research support services: What services do researchers need and use? :

« The search for improvements in research performance is a powerful influence on all universities. Success in research is a major component in the various indicators of overall university performance. Hence universities are increasingly interested in how they can improve their competitive position in attracting, supporting and promoting the work of high-quality researchers. In times of financial stringency, however, they are also seeking to ensure that support and other services operate both efficiently and cost-effectively.

In that context, this study reports on both the provision and the use of information-related support services for researchers in four research-intensive universities in the UK: Leicester, University College London (UCL), Warwick and York. It is one half of a pair of studies commissioned by the Research Information Network (RIN) in the UK and by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) in the US. Both studies set out to investigate what kinds of information-related services are available to support researchers through the research lifecycle, and how those services are used and valued by researchers. Both studies are limited in scope, and are subject to the limitations of small-scale case studies. Nevertheless, we hope that they offer some insights into the nature of the services provided to support researchers in their work, and the extent to which they meet researchers’ expressed needs. »


Research Publication Characteristics and…

Research Publication Characteristics and Their Relative Values: A Report for the Publishing Research Consortium :

« Scholars consider many factors when judging the potential quality of articles and deciding which articles to read. These factors may also influence their perception of the overall quality of the article. The goal of this project is to examine and measure the relative values of selected research publication characteristics to scientists and scholars and to understand the trade-offs readers make between these characteristics. Since readers cannot know the intrinsic value of an article before reading it, they must use other clues to judge its quality and to estimate what value it may have to them. For example, how important is the author reputation or type of journal in relation to other characteristics, or how important is online accessibility to the reader? »